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Prigozhin Isn’t Backing Down After The Defense Ministry Pushed Back Against His Latest Claims
Putting aside conjecture about who’s right and who’s wrong, it can be argued that the Defense Ministry and Wagner Group represent a different philosophy of sorts.
The increasingly tense rivalry between the Defense Ministry (DM) and Wagner Group had two new twists since last night following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s claim that his group faced encirclement in Artyomovsk after the flanks started falling. The DM responded by describing all earlier reports about setbacks along the front as “not corresponding to reality”. The next morning, Prigozhin published a letter sarcastically requesting that Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visit Artyomovsk to see everything himself.
He therefore isn’t backing down after the DM pushed back against his latest claims, which adds further uncertainty to what’s really going on in that city as well as the future of those two’s rivalry. It’s unprecedented for anyone to defy the DM at the level that Prigozhin is doing. Only one of these two can be right, thus meaning that the other is lying. This zero-sum outcome bodes ill for Russia’s objective national interests since it would have been preferable for this dilemma not to transpire in the first place.
The DM and Wagner have both been integral to the special operation over the past 15 months, but it’s amidst this campaign’s setbacks and lack of major progress that they had their falling out. Those who support the DM’s implied interpretation of events believe that Prigozhin is manipulating the public’s perceptions for self-serving reasons related to his speculative political plans in the future. His supporters, meanwhile, are convinced that the DM is playing political games and thus urgently requires reform.
Putting aside conjecture about who’s right and who’s wrong, it can be argued that each represents a different philosophy of sorts. The DM is clearly the status quo force while Wagner is an agent of change, each for better or for worse depending on one’s perspective. This observation reinforces the notion that their rivalry represents a turning point in Russia’s special operation wherein the same order of business will be continued under the DM or Wagner will succeed in pushing through some degree of reform.
Their long-running rivalry’s newly public nature has shocked average Russians, prompted speculation about fundamental disagreements behind the scenes, and dangerously entails potential risks for national security if it continues. Each side is convinced that they’ll ultimately emerge victorious over the other and in turn lead their country to victory over NATO in Ukraine. Neither is backing down, each is now pushing back against the other, and it’ll likely take President Putin’s intervention to resolve their dispute.